UPDATE: We’ve just got word from MRRC that part of the jail will be placed in full lockdown for 2 weeks with no access to AVLs or phones. This is a serious development.
Families and loved ones of prisoners deserve to be told what is happening and be in contact with their loved ones.
Most if not all of the affected have not been convicted.
We renew our calls to immediately release vulnerable prisoners, those on sentences under one year and due to be released soon.
The Daily Telegraph has confirmed the first case of COVID-19 has entered a NSW prison. The private prison Parklea recently had an outbreak of whooping cough amongst inmates, sparking concerns over the prisons health protocols.
On Friday morning, a prisoner being held at Melbourne’s Metropolitan Remand Centre tested positive for COVID-19. The man was asymptomatic and has been isolated.
On Sunday, a worker at the Malmsbury Youth Justice Centre tested positive to the disease, after having been in contact with multiple people on site. The person is reported to have been an education coordinator who ordinarily works with children on behalf of the Department of Education.
Today, Sutherland Court has been closed after an attendee tested positive to COVID-19. The infected person attended the court last Wednesday.
COVID-19 risk is in effect an additional punishment for those in jail
Prisoners are already being subjected to punishment in the form of incarceration, O’Brien Criminal and Civil Solicitors considers it unfair that prisoners must now also suffer the risk of contracting these biological threats as well.
While a person in the community may be able to self-isolate or avoid contact with others, incarcerated individuals are subjected to close living arrangements over which they have little control and conditions which could see the virus spread like wildfire.
Further, prisoners across NSW have already been subjected to heightened stress in recent times due to COVID-19 restrictions. Prisoners have been denied visitors and have had court matters delayed. This is leading to significant frustration amongst those serving time or waiting to have their cases heard, either on remand or as an appeal. Those on remand or appealing may be innocent, yet are being punished additionally due to the crisis. It could be that their only crime is not being able to have a successful bail application.
O’Brien Criminal & Civil Solicitors supports the calls to release vulnerable prisoners, including children such as those at Malmsbury Youth Justice Centre, prisoners in jail for minor offences, and those who have nearly finished their sentences, in order to assist in preventing a widespread outbreak of COVID-19 through our prisons.
If you are, or someone you know is, in prison and are faced with exposure to a health hazard such as COVID-19, then please contact us.